Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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406 words

While in Berlin a fortnight ago, we visited the massive Modell Bauhaus exhibition they are currently running at Martin Gropius Bau. It’s an impressive exhibition in that it covers wide range of the Bauhaus’ history as well as numerous details. Be it their famous school building in Weimar with its glass facade, famous (and less famous) pieces of furniture or appliances they designed and made or humble invitation cards to one of their parties. All of this - and much more - can be seen in the exhibition.

I think we spent more than three hours in the exhibition and yet didn’t explore all the details. In fact, actually exploring the details is hard because they have very little explanatory text along with the exhibits (just what looked like poorly designed name-artist-year stickers in both German and English) and we didn’t want to get an audio guide which would have only covered a few select pieces anyway.

While the Bauhaus does have a massive influence on the way we think about design today, the exhibition also made clear that the form-follows-function mantra people quote all the time doesn’t do them justice. Both because quite a few of the things they made simply don’t look like they were designed primarily good usability and because the Bauhaus ideas have a much greater social component and holistic view of design and manufacturing than meets the eye. Most of that seems to have been lost over time.

I’m not sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing. While I like the design influences of the Bauhaus and some of the design icons they created, the whole æsthetic, particularly the architecture, never seemed particularly appealing to me.

Interesting: Einstein was a supporter of the Bauhaus - with the exhibition featuring his signature on one of the documents. Cool: When exploring the transition from 2D to 3D they worked with paper and by cutting and folding it arrived at rather amazing structures. Some of them were shown in the exhibition - apparently re-created by some lucky arts students. Amusing: A promotional film shown about the houses they built, exhibiting all their special features (and oddnesses). From a convertible couch-divan to a two part kitchen (working and dishwashing), the working part of which doesn’t seem to have a sing to a living room with a tap and sink for easy tea preparation. Not entirely convincing but with a strong sense of modernism.

August 25, 2009, 19:55

Tagged as bauhaus, berlin, exhibition.

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